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September 25, 2011The Nittany Lions won easily on Saturday afternoon, topping Eastern Michigan 34-6 at Beaver Stadium in the final non-conference game of the regular season.
They also lost, however, in a very big way.
Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Mauti suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season, according to team sources and confirmed by Penn State head coach Joe Paterno at his post-game press conference.
"I think we've lost Mike [Mauti] for the year," Paterno said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to [Sebastianelli] because he's not in there. He's got an ACL."
Meanwhile, senior cornerback D'Anton Lynn was also lost for the afternoon on a scary collision that left him motionless, face down on the turf for minutes late in the third quarter.
Lynn suffered what was described to BWI as a 'major stinger', but was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons and later released on Saturday afternoon. Although Lynn had laid motionless, he was able to move his extremities and then his arms and legs, though his whole body was described as being extremely weak from the shock to his system from the hit.
Initial indications from team sources are that Lynn has already been ruled out for the Big Ten conference opener at Indiana on Saturday. Certainly, though, a deep sigh of relief for a program that feared the worst for Lynn.
Of course, the prognosis for Mauti is much more grim.
After suffering a torn ACL in his right knee before the start of the 2009 season, this second one is both devastating and demoralizing not only for Mauti - who must now face the same daunting rehabilitation for this latest injury, which also occurred on a non-contact play - but for the entire defensive unit as a whole.
Team captain and standout senior defensive tackle Devon Still admitted any amount of future without both Mauti and Lynn is an uncertain one.
"I am kind of nervous losing those types of players, but that's just something we're going to have to focus on when we go in on Monday and just talk to the team and let them know that we're going to have to pick it up," he said. "Everybody is going to have to pick up the slack. There's no room to make the mistakes you were making in previous games because we don't have the types of players that can make up for it. Everything now has to be as close to perfect as we can get it."
Linebacker Gerald Hodges also prepared himself the obvious adjustments that will come from time on the field without the two.
"It definitely impacts us a lot. They are vocal, smart. D'Anton is on my side, so he's always there just checking me making sure I'm all right, always in my ear. Just having him in my ear, he's always talking to me," he said. "And then Mauti, him being as vocal and high spirited always bringing us up, he's one of thoese crazy type guys. He's always on edge. Losing that, now we have to just try to fill that void."
One player who did not see action on Saturday due to injury was running back Brandon Beachum. Sidelined due to a sprained foot that he sustained at Tuesday's practice when rolled on during a play, Beachum said after the game that he hopes to return to practice this week.
When asked about the timeline for Beachum's return, offensive coordinator Galen Hall was less certain.
"I don't know. That's the doctor's call," Hall said. "He's feeling pretty good. But still, it's the type of injury you don't want to rush. If you rush him, he has a chance to injure it further."